Neighbors struggle to make sense of slaying of 'Grandma' in Holmesburg

JOSEPH KACZMAREK / FOR THE DAILY NEWS Family members gather Saturday at the Holmesburg rowhouse where two women were executed.
JOSEPH KACZMAREK / FOR THE DAILY NEWS Family members gather Saturday at the Holmesburg rowhouse where two women were executed.
Posted: August 26, 2014

EVEN AFTER someone pumped bullets into her grandson outside her Holmesburg rowhouse last month and she started receiving threatening phone calls, 67-year-old Dollie Evans - affectionately known as "Grandma" on her block - wasn't afraid.

"Dollie wasn't scared of nobody," a friend who calls herself Miss B said outside Evans' house on Vista Street near Torresdale Avenue yesterday. "That's the type of person she was."

Yesterday, 24 hours after someone walked into Evans' house and executed her and 59-year-old Ruby Thomas, a friend who'd been staying at the house, police, friends and relatives of both women were trying to piece together what happened.

Why would someone kill the women who were, by all accounts, beloved in the neighborhood?

According to police, officers were called to the rowhouse about 5:30 p.m. Saturday after a report of gunfire. When they arrived, the front door was ajar. Inside, they found the women shot in the head in the living room and bedroom, police said.

Miss B said that her friend kept a big dog - one that reminded her of Stephen King's "Cujo" - but that the dog had been put outside at the time of the murders, suggesting that whoever is responsible may have known the victims.

"That dog would've never let people in there," Miss B said.

The slayings sent shock waves through the block, where neighbors say there have been at least three shootings recently. Police confirmed that a 36-year-old man had been shot several times outside the same house on July 5. A spokeswoman said that he was uncooperative with investigators.

"My grandkids could've been out there," said one neighbor, who declined to give her name. "It's crazy you can't walk out the door without peeking to see if anything's gonna happen."

She and others recalled the victims as kind, warm women.

"Every morning, I'd sit out here and talk to them," another neighbor, Tina, said. "They were good to my kids."

Miss B said that in the winter Evans gave her a fur coat. Evans went by "Grandma" in the neighborhood because she was always quick to offer a place to stay or a bite to eat, she said.

"You never had to be hungry as long as you were in her presence," Miss B added.

She said that recently Evans had been talking about whoever had shot her grandson, and whoever had called her with the threats, but she wasn't shaken.

"She stood there and said: 'They can't kill me. They gotta do more than that,' " Miss B recalled. "I think she felt something."

Thomas' brother sobbed yesterday as he stood, looking at the well-kept garden of tomato plants and marigolds that flanked the porch of the house where his sister was killed.

"She had her own problems, but she was good to everybody," Joey Thomas said, as tears rolled down his cheeks. He added that his sister grew up in the area and leaves behind a daughter.

"The whole neighborhood will miss her."

Anyone with information should contact detectives at 215-686-3334.

On Twitter: @morganzalot


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